Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriter: Bill Lancaster
Stars: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Richard Masur
It's not hyperbolic to declare John Carpenter's The Thing the greatest remake of all time. In fact, the unimaginative filmmakers cranking out soulless reboots today would do well to study this violent and dark blueprint on how to update material with an eye for endgame politics and nihilism.
Carpenter's wild film remains faithful the premise of the 1951 original, The Thing From Another Planet, about a crew of researchers trapped inside a Norwegian camp as a shape-shifting creature picks them off one by one. Wisely, though, the original's ante gets upped considerably with a series of gross-out setpieces, the best of which is a bit where the film's human characters are tied to chairs by Kurt Russell in hopes of discovering which of them is now an alien. Staged with high tension, the sequence starts off methodical in its build-up before erupting into a grandiose showcase of creepy-crawlies, chests that burst open, and faces that contort into tentacles with eyeballs.
A total hoot that's both cold-blooded and accessible, The Thing is one of the best films that doesn't normally get included in the canon. —MB